January 30, 2019 -

How to Prevent Bad Habits From Taking Over

Do you tell yourself lies about who you are or who God has made you? Do you have self-destructive thoughts which put you down or have nothing to do with who you really are?

Why Do We Tell Ourselves Lies?

We want to explore this in our blog today and in a more expansive fashion in our podcast #7. Have you ever stopped to think, “why do I react so negatively in some situations? What is the cause of that big reaction to such a small thing?”

Many of us don’t take the time to find out the root of our problems or our dragon eggs, as we call them in our book Learning To Trust. These are attitudes and actions that we think we can control but they really end up controlling us.

Pauly gives a great illustration in podcast #7 when she observed her dad did not ever want to help bring groceries in the house for her mom when she came home from the store. Because she saw her dad do this, she thought I would not want to help her either. This became an irritation for her early in our marriage. We finally talked about it and worked it out. She found out I had no problem helping her. I just needed to know that is what she wanted.

We were able to finally work it out. In our book, we describe many ways to help us not start dragon fires, and allow us freedom from those things that tend to enslave us.

Avoiding Fires

In chapter 3 of Learning How to Trust we talk about how it is not good to hide our dragon eggs because things always get worse. Here is an excerpt from the book.

“Pauly once dreamt about coming across a circle of stones about eight feet in diameter surrounding a dried-up plant. Feeling sorry for the plant, she felt compelled to water it. But her delight in seeing its shriveled leaves swell and grow quickly turned to horror. It grew too fast, becoming monstrous and threatening. She knew she had to destroy it, and she grabbed a broom and beat it back down into the ground.

Not knowing what to make of the dream, she reported it to a group of friends at a fellowship meeting. And one of them said, “The message of your dream is this: Be careful what you water.” Pauly knew immediately how this interpretation applied to her. She had allowed her life to become too busy with activities that sapped her energy and emotions, and robbed her of time for more important priorities. She was becoming resentful toward Alan, who would say things like, “Have you done the grocery shopping?” or “What’s for dinner?” His simple reminder of her priorities would explode like atomic guilt-bombs in her conscience.

How To Break Habits

Like Pauly, many of us coddle potentially dangerous habits. Initially, we may be unaware of the threat. Daily, most men are faced with sexual temptation. Consider this: Duane sits waiting in the mall while his wife, Janelle, tries on clothes. A long-legged blond twenty-something in skintight sundress swishes by. At first, Duane says, “That woman is a dazzling beauty, but I’m committed to being satisfied by Janelle.” That’s the right response. But what happens when that dazzling beauty swishes by a second time?

Dr. Darryl DelHousaye, president of Phoenix Seminary, has said, “The first look is free. It’s the second look that’s the problem.” Duane’s second look leads to a bit of fantasy—“Hmm, I wonder what she’d be like in bed.” Then a sharp mental slap on the wrist—“I can’t believe I just thought that! Shame on me!” He looks around for Janelle, wondering if she can read the X-rated “thought balloon” hovering above his head. But no, she’s still weighing the merits of the blue dress against the red one. Whew! He’s off the hook.

Duane can rationalize his first indiscretion, telling himself, “That was just a slip-up. It won’t happen again.” But having dropped his guard and compromised his standards one time, the next time is just a bit easier for him. The fire didn’t flash out of heaven to consume him. And now he knows it won’t. Gradually his conscience grows dull. And if the opportune situation presents itself, Duane will be ripe for a fall.

This principle applies to anything that you know you should say no to.

As Christian educator D.L. Moody said, “You can’t keep birds from flying overhead. But you can keep them from building nests in your hair.”

Only you can prevent dragon fires. But it will take a process and maybe you will need to spend more time than you want, to be able to put out these fires and learn how to stop them before they start. You can do it though we are sure of that. It may take help from others who have gone through something similar. Or a person that is skilled at helping discern what needs to be done. It will be worth it.

Stay tuned for this week’s Trust Minute with Alan Heller, where Walk and Talk dives deeper into preventing dragon fires!


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